Natural Resource Management (NRM) in Australia is socially and ecologically complex, uncertain and contested. Government and non-government stakeholders act and collaborate in regionally-based, multi-scale NRM governance situations, but imbalances in power and breakdowns in trust constrain transparency and equity. Here, we report on an action research project exploring the potential of social learning to contribute to systemic change in multi-governance situations. We sought to understand practices and institutional arrangements in two regional NRM governance case studies in southern Victoria, Australia. Drawing on this research, we explore how social learning, with its foundation of systems thinking, has enabled improved collaborative processes and adaptive governance to emerge.